With 18 episodes under her belt, the first one of which was aired in 1997, Nikki Valdez literally grew up with Maalaala Mo Kaya.
“Nagulat ako,” she told Kapamilya Chat when asked her reaction to MMK’s farewell last December 10, adding that she was still supposed to do an episode. Then again, 31 years is enough to prove how iconic the program is, and she is honored to have lent her talent to MMK.
Nikki’s first MMK appearance was for “Gitara” where she played the granddaughter of Helen Gamboa and Dante Rivero. Just to act opposite these veteran stars was already enough of an achievement for her, add to that, it was directed by Ruel Bayani. She remembers learning a song for the episode and performing it during Helen and Dante’s renewal of vows scene.
It was followed by “Lullaby” which is extra memorable for being her first MMK lead role. In the episode, which was about teenage pregnancy, she played a 16-year-old high school student impregnated by her best friend portrayed by Marc Solis. It was directed by Wenn Deramas and had Rio Locsin as Nikki’s mother.
Nikki shared a fun trivia about the episode, particularly her birthing scene, “Hindi naman ako marunong manganak kasi ang role ko 16 years old. No’ng manganganak na, somebody had to pinch my big toe para kunyari umiire ako, para maramdaman ko ‘yung sakit. Kasi I had no idea how to give birth.” Add to that, she asked for food after her heavy crying scene, “Nagutom ako sa pagod talaga!”
In one of her favorite scenes in the episode, Nikki said Direk Wenn required her to deliver her lines in a way the audience would feel her pregnant character’s emotional chaos. And what better way to do it than laugh in between tears.
“’Yun ang gusto niyang makitang feelings ko talaga, para akong baliw. Kasi nga as a 16 years old, you’re confused ‘di ba? ‘Buntis ako, I’m not supposed to be pregnant. I’m supposed to go out with my friends. Kailangan nagsasaya din ako,’” she narrated.
Meanwhile, her last episode pre-pandemic was “Hakbang de Kawayan” with Louise Abuel and Joem Bascon directed by Nuel Naval. There was one specific scene that required her to throw money coins at Joem’s face, resulting in a slight tear on his forehead. Nikki was shocked and concerned upon seeing the blood but she couldn’t stop without her director’s command.
“Eh, hindi nagka-cut si Direk. Eh, ang turo sa amin noong mga bata pa kami, ‘pag hindi nag-cut ang director mo, you don’t cut yourself. Wait for the director to say, ‘Wait, let’s do it again,’” she said.
Emotions are really high on the MMK set since the actors have something special, a real-life story to portray. MMK was indeed a training ground for actors, especially during Nikki’s time in the ‘90s when it was considered a ‘soap opera’ in its own right.
“No’ng time namin lalo, basta ‘pag may inquiry ka ng MMK, ay, parang may napatunayan ka. ‘Yan agad ang naiisip. You know, it’s a training ground for us actors na ‘pag sinabi may MMK, ‘I made it in this business!’ Because the best of the best diyan. Hindi sila magka-cast ng hindi makaka-deliver. Hindi sila magka-cast ng direktor na hindi kaya ang drama,” shared the actress.
She continued, “They won’t get you ‘pag alam nilang hindi mo kaya ang role talaga. Doon, you will tape for two to three straight days. That’s how tedious it was because MMK gives the best… ‘Pag nandiyan ka talaga, hinuhulma ka talaga sa acting mo, eh. Hindi pwedeng parang so-so ‘yung pagbigay mo diyan. Kailangan talaga makipagsabayan ka sa mga ka-eksena mo.”
Nikki is grateful to MMK for all the lessons she picked up from the show, directors, and especially her veteran co-stars. “Minsan matutulala ka na lang, eh. You’ll end up watching them. But to be alongside these veteran actors, talagang diyan lang sa MMK mangyayari ‘yan, eh,” she mused.
Check out Nikki’s behind-the-scenes facts in the video!